As the cost of living continues to rise, many ageing Australians are casting an even more critical eye over their home care packages to ensure they’re getting value for money.

Regardless of the level of government-subsidised Home Care Package you receive, it’s important to be certain every dollar of your allocated funds counts.

When comparing the prices of Home Care Package providers, there is a lot to consider.

While consideration of hourly rates are important, this is only part of the equation when weighing up which provider is best to deliver your home care services.

 

What is a Home Care Package?

A Home Care Package is a government subsidy which provides funding for eligible seniors (over 65) to receive in home care and other support services.

There are four levels of Home Care Packages:

  • Level 1: basic care needs
  • Level 2: low-level care needs
  • Level 3: intermediate care needs
  • Level 4: high-level care needs

The services you receive are based on your assessed care needs, but can include showering, and grooming; meal preparation; nursing; help with mobility and continence support; transport; cleaning; and home & garden maintenance.

As a starting point, you complete an eligibility check online or over the phone. Then ACAT (an Aged Care Assessment Team) will assess if you are eligible for a Home Care Package and what level of care you can get.

Once approved, you enter the National Priority System (NPS) queue, to await assignment of your package.

While you await your package, you’ll need to select your provider. Before choosing one, it’s helpful to understand how your package budget works, how much the government will contribute towards your home care services, and whether you will have any out-of-pocket expenses. While the government provides a subsidy, you may have to pay a basic daily fee and additional fees that you agree to such as care management and package management costs.

Maximising your Home Care Package funds

Approved Home Care Package providers use various pricing models.

To get the most out of your package, it’s important to compare apples with apples. In other words, you need to look at the actual home care services you will receive, and all the fees involved – not just hourly rates.

Home Instead, for instance, may not have the lowest hourly rate, but is competitive with no daily fees and lower than average package management .

Here are some important things to consider when looking at Home Care Package providers:

  • Care managed versus self-managed: Do you want to manage your plan or have all aspects of your plan, including finances and booking of your care services, managed for you? If you’re considering self-management, think about how much effort you will need to put in and whether it’s worth it.
  • Flexible support: Your care needs may change over time. With that in mind, check whether the provider gives you the option to increase services as needed. Can you access 24/7 support if needed? You’re not always limited to what’s included in your Home Care Package either; many providers offer comparable services with private (self-funded) options available.
  • Self-managing your package allows hands-on oversight of your care team and schedule. It also involves overseeing staff including the handling of shift availability changes, such as accommodating holidays and responding to unexpected cancellations due to illness or injury. When a provider manages your package, they handle all rostering responsibilities, including replacing unavailable staff as needed.
  • Pricing: Make sure you look beyond the hourly rate. Providers may also charge package management fees, basic daily fees and transport. If they charge transport, you need to clarify whether this is between clients, to and from shifts, or only during your shift. Also check whether they manage other approved service providers on your behalf. If so, how do they charge for these costs. I Or do they directly on-charge the from service providers?

 

It’s also a good idea to use a checklist to ensure you select a provider who can best manage your ongoing assessed needs and care goals. Home Instead’s checklist offers a helpful framework you could use as a reference.

 

Home Care Package pricing transparency

To be confident you aren’t being overcharged for home care services, it’s worth checking out the national summary of home care prices.

To improve the transparency of Home Care Package pricing, the Department of Health and Aged Care regularly publishes national median prices for common care services. This includes care management, package management, personal care, nursing, light gardening and cleaning.

According to the 31 March 2024 report, median prices for light gardening, in-home respite, personal care and cleaning/household tasks range from $71-$75 per hour.

 

It’s important you are happy with your Home Care Package provider and the in-home care you receive. You should feel you are getting good value for money and are receiving quality care that suits your needs. If you aren’t happy, you have the right to change to another provider.

Home Instead is an approved Home Care Package provider through My Aged Care, delivering relationship-based care for our valued clients through government-funded packages, from levels 1 to 4. Find out more here